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April 21, 2013

The trans-Atlantic legacy of Playford

(Continued)

“There’s no competition,” John said. “It’s just a dance, and it’s beautiful. You move in patterns to the music, and the music is beautiful. That’s what makes it very enjoyable. It’s challenging. It keeps you on your toes. Once you learn how to do the moves, you just become part of the music.”

The Schenkels also contra dance.

“It’s more energetic and easier to learn,” John said. “It’s very, very different from English country dance. What’s interesting, politics had a lot to do with dance forms. Prior to (English country dance), there were the very formal pavanes. The noblemen danced at one end, and the commoners danced at one end, and they didn’t get together. In (English country dance), everyone dances with everyone, and that’s when democracy started. The rise of the waltz and couple dances is when individualism started.”

CALLING

In the 17th century, English country dance was a flirting gateway.

“There’s a lot of eye contact in the dance and some touching, but not a lot,” John said. “It’s good exercise. The first night we did contra, we could hardly make it up the stairs. (English country dance) is exercise, but it’s a lot more mental.”

Sharon has been a caller for six years.

“The dilemma for me is, ‘Do I have to give up the dancing to do the calling?’” she said. “To stand up front in the room and teach people a dance and watch the whole room come together and see people enjoying it, it’s a totally marvelous feeling,” she said.

“I totally enjoy calling as much as I do dancing. Some are not good dancers, and they have so much fun. They make mistakes. They keep coming back and keep smiling. You have a good time and do the best you can.”

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